Saturday, November 20, 2021

how delicately balanced

Married Love

            (by Kathleen Flenniken)

All of them are dead now. My father
and mother, bedded together

under their matching stones.
Their married friends, close by.

The crystal and good plates all washed
and put away in other homes,

no party food left over. My job
was to whip the cream for dessert

and ride behind on their fishing weekends
like a seventh wheel,

along with our Airedale who wore
striped socks over his muddy paws

in the house. Spirits accelerated
toward cocktail hour in the red

ranch kitchen where they made
big to-do’s over their drinks—

then feigned concern they might
corrupt me. The men stirred

the air, clustered at the bar, moved
among the women conferring

over the bubbling stew.
My mother, flushed and pretty

as a cornucopia of summer fruit.
That September before college

I joined the happy group
on a fly-fishing river in Montana

and slept on the cottage’s foldout couch.
Late one evening, lights doused,

I was alone with Mother and one
of the men, not quite uncle

not quite friend though I newly
recognized that he was handsome.

I’ve erased whatever he said
that convinced me he’d forgotten

I was there. But there I was, afraid
to breathe, confused to learn

how delicately balanced
these practitioners of marriage must be.

Then they retired to their separate rooms,
though a presence hung in the air

like perfume.

(“Married Love” comes from Kathleen Flenniken’s book Post Romantic. The University of Washington Presscf. On Being)

who can live in the world as it is

Ler me show you the door.

Like breath, it is your constant passage.

How, then, do we live? Liz reflects on what it means to be entirely present to what’s happening. Speaking about hope, she’s cautious, aware that while many people who loved Rayya hoped — even until the last days — that she’d make a recovery, sometimes that hope got in the way of being present to the arrival of death. 

“I hope more and more to become a person who can live in the world as it is,” Liz says, noting that the world as it is can be a tough place to be. It requires practice to maintain this presence. One of the practices that’s sustained her has been to write a letter to love. While it’s something she’s done on and off for many years, she’s come to it more particularly as a daily practice in the last few years. Writing to love helps her imagine how love would write back to her, and it keeps her attention on what’s happening in the day. In this way, writing, imagination, reality, reflection, and listening are all part of being present to her life. “Writing was my first prayer,” she says, reminding us of how writing — perhaps especially the form of a letter — is a powerful way to access what’s deep in us. 

(—from Pádraig Ó Tuama’s Saturday email, The Pause, 20nov21, On Being, re conversation, Pico Iyer and Elizabeth Gilbert, The Future of Hope 3)

Breath doesn’t judge; it notices.

Sometimes, most times, we do not remember our passing through. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

simple things come back to us

The words.

The novelist.

Oh, the day Joshua first shaved! Oh, the day! Covered himself with foam. So very careful with the razor. Made an avenue through the cheek, but nicked himself on the neck. Tore off a tiny piece of his Daddy's Wall Street Journal. Licked it and pasted it to the wound. The business page clotting his blood. Walked around with the paper on his neck for an hour. He had to wet it to get it off. She had stood at the bathroom door, smiling. My big tall boy, shaving. Long ago, long ago. The simple things come back to us. They rest for a moment by our ribcages then suddenly reach in and twist our hearts a notch backward.

   No newspapers big enough to paste him back together in Saigon.

   She takes another long haul, lets the smoke settle in her lungs -- she has heard somewhere that cigarettes are good for grief. One long drag and you forget how to cry. The body too busy dealing with the poison. No wonder they gave them out free to the soldiers. Lucky Strikes.

(p.81, in novel, Let The Great World Spin, by Colum McCann) 

Scraps of paper. 

The art of it. 

when you've made the transfer

I surrender. 

Surrender is the strongest, most subversive thing you can do in this world. It takes strength to admit you are weak, bravery to show you are vulnerable, courage to ask for help. It’s also not a one-time gig; you don’t just do it once and move on. It’s a way of existing, a balancing act. For me, it looks like this: I pick up the baton and I run as far as I can, and I hand it over when I’m out of breath. Or actually maybe it’s like: I’m running with the baton, but the Universe is holding on to the other half of it, and we have an agreement that I’ll figure out the parts I can and hand over the parts I can’t.

Until you move to the sense of being able to trust there is a God who is guiding you, who loves you more than you love yourself—that's when you've made the transfer. That's when you know you're a part of a bigger flow, a bigger system—if you want to use that word—and you are not doing it, it is being done unto you. [2]

(—Holly Whitaker, The Power of Surrender, Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation)

A condition of no conditions. 

i duff my angels’ cap

 Shohei Ohtani

MVP American 

League — unanimous 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

five things to consider


Yes, people can be sh*ts.


People in the House and Senate can be s*its.


There’s no accounting for shi*heads or stupidity.


Try not to be a disingenuous sh*t.


Try to be humane, respectful, and helpful.

why is life more interesting than death

 Please do not kill him

Julius Jones — Governor Stitt —

Find a way, save life

….  …   …

(Note: later in day, at 1:29pm, with hours to go before execution, Stitt did commute, called off death penalty, changed to life without parole.)

it was a point of view

 In the dream I’m with

Fantastic gadgets, people 

Like Peter alive

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


 The space between known 

world and unknown unseen life

That space — where we live

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

what’s that sound we hear

 Something strange this way

Comes, the end of peace justice

American way

Monday, November 15, 2021

waking into a new becoming

My interests narrow.  Anything too cute, formulaic, or clever drop from my ability to navigate, whether podcasts, cable news shows, or anything from anyone a millionaire. Everything seems to be self-promotion and dollar-a-word contributors in three minute interviews lined up like cereal boxes for plucking on grocery shelves.

I can barely stand myself and any opinion I mutter.

Head-butting cat thinks

“He has skill to pour kibbles 

Into bowl for me”

While on roof some animal

Scurries on asphalt shingles

The time for dissolving disappearance has unpacked its bag. The boarding house room has no closets. The loo is down the hall. We’re all visitors passing by with post office boxes rented for six months.

And the empty turns its face to us 

and whispers, 

‘I am not empty, I am open.’ 

(—Thomas Tranströmer, Vermeer)

At Sunday Evening Practice we read:

Spirituality is in its essence an awakening to the inner reality of our being, to a spirit, self, soul which is other than our mind, life and body… to enter into contact with the greater Reality beyond and pervading the universe which inhabits also our own being, to be in communion with It and union with It, and a turning, a conversion, a transformation of our whole being as a result of the aspiration, the contact, the union, a growth or waking into a new becoming or new being, a new self, a new nature. 

(-Sri Aurobindo, quoted in From the Age of Spiritual Emptiness To Spiritual Fullness)

The cat, Chitta, has returned to her perpetual nap. Kibbles will magically appear in kitchen sometime soon. Yesterdays purchase of English muffins will find way into toaster. C-Boost swig will take regimen of pills into gullet. There will be cereal with Fairlife chocolate low percentage milk.

What if we lived inside-out? What if we dropped down through layers of dark unknowing, through Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian levels of psychological accretion, falling deeper through darkened consciousness, until…

Until arriving at no place recognizable or known, somewhere nowhere that is ground of being, divine source, vital emptiness, sheer presence. This would only echo Leonard Cohan’s “You Want it Darker” paean of end of search submission. At bottom, at end, if we remain in great doubt and great faith, there just might be longed for reality, love, truth, and radical unpossesive freedom.

We're talking deep here. Deeper than dark. Where no concepts of evil versus good exist nor make any sense. 

Nothing but nothing-itself. An unseen silence. An unmanifest irredescent absence so full of surround and centricity there is no place that does not see you, and as Rilke concludes, "You must change your life."

Once, absent-mindedly, called 'God' -- now, simply: 'Called-Itself.'

But for the time being, Maine Department of Transportation digs up driveway at edge of road replacing culvert pipe that has rusted out. 

That is one place I see.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

her morning meditation walk with companion

non-corpus mentis

 Catholic folks praise

their Lord consuming body —

I bow — kenosis 

just here

 Buddhist friends begin

their sit — I attend wrinkled 

blanket mu zendo 

an obsequy for desolate road

sun rides pole wires up

hill toward Hope Sunday morning

no one transports there